Come and meet the Pittsburgh Steelers' value-laden draft picks: Safe and Risky. If Day 1 of the Steelers 2012 NFL Draft was a smoke alarm, then Day 2 was a kitchen fire. 1st Round draft pick David DeCastro enters the Black and Gold family representing arguably the most sure-thing evaluation in the entire crop of college talent. 2nd Round draft pick Mike Adams comes to town as arguably this year's most volatile scouting combination of talent and character concerns.
Adams, a 6'7 1/4, 323 lb offensive tackle from Ohio State University, was taken by Pittsburgh with the 56th overall pick of the 2012 Draft despite three significant off-field incidents on his resume:
– In January of 2009 he was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia (police found a pipe in Adams' car during a traffic stop), a charge that was dismissed for insufficient evidence and for which Adams also passed a drug test. (Separately that year, Adams would be demoted to scout team during fall camp and suspended the first two games of the season for violating team rules.)
– In 2011 Adams was one of five Ohio State players who were handed a five game suspension for receiving improper benefits from a Columbus tattoo parlor. In Adams' case, he had sold gear including his 2008 Big Ten championship ring and was ordered to repay $1000.
– In 2012 at the NFL Scouting Combine, Adams reportedly tested positive for marijuana. Adams did not tell any teams of the possibility of this positive test for drug use during Combine interviews, but later chose to come forward with the information upon receiving official news of the positive test (NFL teams would not have learned the results themselves until one week prior to the NFL Draft).
In particular, the latter incident of failing a pre-arranged drug test at one of the nation's biggest job interviews was an eyebrow raiser. It gives Adams a first-offense under the NFL's substance abuse policy, a second of which will result in a four game suspension. In total, Mike Adams' rap sheet of red flags that was enough to remove Mike Adams from the Pittsburgh Steelers prospect list for a time, according to Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert.
"In Mike's case, he sought us out once he was aware of the situation [of testing positive]," said Colbert. "He requested a face-to-face interview and meeting with myself, Art Rooney II, and coach Tomlin, and we obliged. When Mike came in, we told him he's off our draft board. These are the stipulations that you have to accomplish for us to draft you, which the young man did. He met our criteria, he met our stipulations, and we were comfortable taking him where we took him."
Colbert would not elaborate as to what those criteria may have been.
Adams was contrite when speaking about the situation, saying that arranging the meeting was "more about trying to get back in their good graces. I knew that I screwed up. I've been a lifelong Steelers fan. I struck out to meet with them and just to let them know what happened and show my remorse and let them know that I love that organization and that I'll do anything to be a part of it. That's the team I wanted to go to from day one."
On the field, despite some very obvious impressive physical traits (including 10.7 inch hands), Adams is not a sure thing either.
The former Buckeye has 25 starts at left tackle in the Big Ten under his belt, and tape that includes 33 TD-resulting blocks over his final two seasons as a starter. In Adams' final eight starts as a senior he produced 78 knockdown blocks for the Ohio State offense, and a performance against Wisconsin's J.J. Watt (the Houston Texans first-round pick in 2011) stood out during 2010 as one where Adams used his massive size to swallow up an elite edge rusher.
On the other hand, Adams has produced spotty play over the course of his career, in particular struggling with the power of Adrian Clayborn and Ryan Kerrigan in matchups with those former Big Ten foes (granted, both first-round talents at pass rusher in the NFL). Adams also only benched 19-reps at 225 pounds at the Combine and does not have a body that looks sculpted at an NFL level. And durability wise, the Ohio State product had knee surgery, shoulder surgery, and a season-ending foot injury throughout the course of his college career.
Sean Kugler is the offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he summed up Mike Adams the football player in this way:
"He has great size and long arms. He can bend for a guy his size. He has a lot of length to him and that is important at the tackle position. He's a physical player and a size combination that is hard to beat at the tackle position. [But] he's going to have to work at his entire game. I wouldn't say that he's a finished product. A guy his size, speed probably will be his nemesis. We'll continue to work on that. There will be some technique things. He presents other problems to players."
But in the end, the biggest storyline of Mike Adams' career in Pittsburgh will likely be his character. A Farrell, PA native until the age of 12, Adams' favorite boyhood team has taken a chance that he will change his ways and stay be incident-free. Does he have a drug problem that he can't control or was it just a case of, in the words of Colbert, "young people [making] mistakes?" Does he care enough about the game, more than failing a test at that job fair would indicate? Is he smart enough to realize all that is at stake for him, including the likely $300,000 or more he cost himself by slipping from a 1st Round prospect to Round 2?
If he pans out, the Steelers have found another highly touted bookend lineman to go along with last year's 2nd Round selection of Marcus Gilbert, and they've given themselves increased depth behind current rostered-tackles Willie Colon and Jonathan Scott. If he doesn't pan out, Adams will be filed along with several other recent Round 2 draft mistakes the Steelers have made, including Limas Sweed, Ricardo Colclough, and Alonzo Jackson.
Welcome to Pittsburgh, boom or bust Mike.